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Kaminski, John P.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Fields, David P.; Conley, Patrick T.; Moore, Timothy D. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Rhode Island (3)
(2013)

VI. The debate over the Constitution in Rhode Island, 20 January-29 May 1790,   pp. 711-897


Page 743

COMMENTARIES, 27 FEBRUARY 1790
5. John Heywood, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the englishe
tongue ... (London, 1546), Part I, chapter 3: "Whan the sonne shynth make hey. whiche
is to saie,/Take tyme whan tyme comth, lest tyme stele awaie."
John Adams to Jabez Bowen
New York, 27 February 17901
Your letter of the 15th never reached me till yesterday I condole with
you in the unfavorable aspect of your elections: but still hope that your
people will cool upon reflection and that a majority of the convention
may be induced to accept the constitution. It is in vain to enquire what
Congress may or can do, at present they can do nothing. The awful
object before them, I mean the national debt, monopolizes the atten-
tion of Congress to such a degree that untill some system is digested
no member of either house will be able to attend to any thing else.
When the affair of Rhode Island shall be taken up, there will be twenty
different plans proposed, time must be spent in examination discussion
and deliberation.
He must be less than a thinking being who can be at a loss to foresee
what Congress will ultimately do with Rhode Island, if she obstinately
refuses to come in-But it would not be prudent in me to predict it
The opposition of Rhode Island to the impost seems to have been the
instrument which providence thought fit to use for the great purpose
of establishing the present constitution:2 I sincerely hope their infatu-
ation may not oblige the United states to take severe measures at their
expence to convince the people that their interests are in the power
of their neighbours and to gain strength to the New government by
punishing its rash opposers. I must finally say to you in confidence that
I beleive Congress will never beg or pray or exhort your Antis to come
in. They will leave them at perfect liberty-and whenever they take any
steps it will not be till injuries shall be multiplied and their just resent-
ment approved by all the world
1. FC, Adams Papers, Letterbook, MHi. Adams is responding to Bowen's letter of 15
February (RCS:R.I., 706-7).
2. A reference to Rhode Island's refusal to ratify the Impost of 1781, which killed the
measure that would have given Congress an independent source of revenue (RCS:R.I.,
Vol. 1, xxviii).
Samuel A. Otis to William Smith
New York, 27 February 1790 (excerpt)'
... The prospect of accession by the State of R I is unfavorable, there
are restless & abandoned men there who want curbing, but I know not
when it will take place....
743


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